ENHANCED Shield: A Critical Materials Technology Enabling Compact Superconducting Tokamaks
Project Innovation + Advantages:
With significant improvement in high-temperature superconductors (HTS), several fusion projects are adopting HTS for high-field magnets. As compact fusion devices have less space for radiation shielding, HTS degradation is a potential design-limiting issue. There are currently no high-performance, compact shielding materials to enable the HTS technology in compact fusion devices. Stony Brook University seeks to improve the effectiveness and longevity of shield materials for HTS magnets. The team will leverage innovative manufacturing methods to fabricate novel two-phase composites that simultaneously moderate and absorb neutrons while attenuating gamma radiation. This new class of shield is comprised of highly absorbing metal hydrides entrained within an irradiation-stable ceramic matrix. These composites, which can operate at high temperature, possess hydrogen density approaching water with a high and tunable neutron capture. The proposed shield-materials’ advantages over present technology include enhanced neutron-absorbing capabilities allowing for thinner shields, engineered radiation tolerance, high-temperature stability, and extended component lifetimes, potentially eliminating the need for shield component replacement. This new shield material could potentially reduce the radial-build size of fusion power plants by a factor of two and increase magnet lifetimes, which provide compounding reductions on the levelized cost of energy.
Successful development of fusion energy science and technology could lead to a safe, carbon-free, abundant energy source for developed and emerging economies.